Mike Mares sings and plays acoustic guitar for local group The Noms. The eight-month-old band is recording an album and plays a self-described “acoustic pop” that led to victory in UNM’s last Battle of the Bands.
Daily Lobo: So what are you doing today?
Mike Mares: Today we just had a little writing retreat and practice and hanging out and eating burritos. You know, we’re just hanging out, you know, writing songs.
DL: So take me through the process of writing a song.
MM: I’ve been writing songs for a long time, since I was 14, but everyone in the band is very musical. If I have a guitar riff I like, I’ll bring it to practice, and we’ll just build off it. Josh will play his stuff, Greg, Jesse, Michelle, and it’s just really cool making something out of nothing because that’s essentially what you are doing as a musician. In the band we are very equal and very sharing. There’s no dominant person. It’s really cool.
DL: And what about when you run into a creative block?
MM: I’ll just sit outside and write down what I see. A fence, dirt or a bird trying to fly or something. Sometimes when you have writer’s block, you just have it and you can’t do it. You just have to put it away. The thing with songs is that you can’t just sit down and say “I’m going to write a song.” That’s kind of the hardest way for me to write. I kind of just wake up in the middle of the night and say, “That sounds pretty cool.”
DL: So do you have a notebook or something like that?
MM: I have a Walgreens bag filled with six notebooks that I just scribble in. It’s awful. I need to get my life together.
DL: Do you lose song ideas sometimes?
MM: Yes, (laughs) I have lost a lot. There are times when I just misplace stuff.
DL: Is that frustrating as an artist?
MM: Yeah. I’ve been starting to catch up with technology lately. If I think of something cool, I’ll webcam myself on the computer and play it and save it. That really saves me unless the computer explodes.
DL: Mac or PC?
MM: I’ve got a PC. I’m not good with Macs. The only thing I know about apples is that they make good pies.
DL: You mentioned earlier you have been writing songs since you were 14. What’s it like to write songs alone for so long and then being able to work with a band?
MM: It’s so comforting and amazing. These guys are musicians to the bone. So when I bring something in, and I have this one way of thinking about it, they throw 10,000 different things at it, and it becomes so much more than I ever thought it would. It’s definitely a blessing. I don’t struggle as much writing because we all write as a band.
DL: What does your band need before you can start writing? Like breakfast burritos maybe?
MM: (laughs) Our band name is, “The Noms” and that name came from the sound that you make when you eat, you know like, “Nom, nom, nom.” I would say food’s very essential to us writing music.
DL: What kind of foods are the band’s favorites?
MM: I would have to say Jesse’s burritos and hot whiskeys. We usually do a hot whiskey after every show.
DL: So what sets your band apart from others?
MM: We’re just, I don’t know how other bands operate and I don’t want to say anything, but we are just very open to everybody. There’s no seniority or dominant person in the band, we are all just, “The Noms.” We have all been friends since high school so we have known each other for a while, but we actually just started playing eight months ago.
DL: How does your mindset change when you get up on the stage and perform?
MM: For me personally, it’s always fun. Music is fun (and) it’s supposed to be fun. I have fun, that’s the thing that I translate between practice and shows — it’s supposed to be fun. We’re always laughing on stage. I think we carry ourselves with a confidence because we feed off of each other. We have chemistry. We know what we are doing. We know who is going to play what note at what time. It’s us being confident in each other. Connecting with the crowd and each other is really big. We boogie.
DL: So where’s your favorite venue thus far?
MM: One of the best crowds, I think, was the Battle of the Bands at UNM. That was a fun crowd. I think all the shows around campus, just connecting with students. You know when students go to a show they just want to hang out and have fun and let loose. I think shows around campus are a step up from just bars.
DL: So did you ever have just a terrible show?
MM: Burt’s (Tiki Lounge) booked us on a Monday night during finals week, at midnight. We were getting paid to practice, but that’s the thing about this band. I wouldn’t say it was necessarily a bad show because we will play anywhere. We don’t know who is listening, you never know who is listening or how you can change someone’s life with a song, who knows. But I don’t think we have bad shows. There could be three people and we’d still have